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Fresh off the plane: 5 tried-and-tested employee mobility initiatives



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To help you formulate some new employee mobility initiatives as we’re steamrolling into 2019, Human Resources had HR leaders from Wunderman, Amgen, Roche Diagnostics, T-Systems Singapore, and Kerry Group reveal some of the innovative initiatives they have tried in expatriate management.

Lynda Ong, talent director for APAC, Wunderman:
Focus on the employee

As Wunderman grows rapidly through acquisitions with new expertise verticals, the global digital agency is moving talent (especially specialists) across the world to build and scale certain capabilities globally. These employees are being moved on shorter three to six month stints to provide speed and agility – something much needed in an industry with massive dynamism.

Ong says: “With our core talent strategy revolving around YOUtime (where we focus on you, the employee), we have launched a global exchange programme (YOUSwap) where our high performing employees are exchanged between markets to provide an immersive experience for a shorter period (one month) as part of their development and introducing diversity into the various workspaces.”

Foo Wah Teng, human resources director, Amgen Singapore Manufacturing:
Moving to fuel employees’ potential

At Amgen, business is constantly evolving, hence the need to proactively invest in staff to develop skills, experiences and leadership capabilities needed for future leadership roles.

Among the various talent development initiatives that help propel the company towards its aspiration of becoming the best place for talent is the global “FUEL Your Potential” programme. The programme provides guidance and tools to help the employee build a successful career and is designed to help them find their competitive edge through understanding the power of diverse leadership.

“Our global ‘FUEL Your Potential’ programme is one such initiative for our manufacturing operations employees to be enrolled under an 18-month talent development programme to develop talent for key roles,” Foo says.

“Between rotating assignments in different Amgen offices throughout the world with the aim to build different skill sets and to learn from different cultural approaches in each new region, employees are able to take ownership of their own career development and take advantage of all the resources available to unleash their true potential and to discover their passion.

“These include targeted efforts that combine on-the-job development, job rotations, mentoring, career development resources and structured learning. This holistic learning approach not only enables Amgen to develop talent in the long run, but empowers employees for their career progression.”

Goh Chor Lim, head of human resources, Roche Diagnostics Asia Pacific:
Taking the express route

In a global company such as Roche Diagnostics, employee mobility is encouraged. In fact, some of the firm’s most successful leaders have multi-market experience.

However, employees may be reluctant to work overseas for family reasons, including leaving elderly parents behind or uprooting the entire family, Goh reveals.

“This, in some measure, took away from the thrill and positive experience of being in a different country. So we decided to introduce a new way of doing international assignments called ‘Express Development Opportunities’ or EDO for short.” The EDO assignments typically last for three months, hence, employees need not relocate their whole family. At the same time, with these assignments, the assignee’s role in their home country is still secure.

“We launched an updated version in 2016 and since then have had close to 100 EDO opportunities, a nearly three-fold increase in the number of people opting for EDOs and countries willing to host overseas employees.”

Brandon Lew, VP of human resources, T-Systems Singapore:
Optimising costs by leveraging on technology

A new initiative T-Systems is trying out is a dual country arrangement.

Lew elaborates: “This means if an employee is from country A, they will work for country B for a year, but would only stay there for six months. They will spend the remaining six months in their home country. This optimises the costs and leverages on communication technology.”

Kasia Garvin, senior manager of global mobility, Kerry Group:
Analysing data to improve mobility

Historically, Kerry’s talent management strategy has been quite detached from its mobility programme, Garvin reveals.

Affirming it’s time for a change, the company is currently looking into creating global talent pools through a number of ways such as by reviewing the performance and potential of its assignees, analysing retention rates, reasons for leaving, leavers’ costs, and more.

“Our aim is to gain a bit more insight on how our programme has been performing and how we can improve it and make it more relevant when it comes to employee development,” she says.

“There is lot of work involved, a lot of data and analysis required. However, the results we have seen so far have been very interesting and eye opening. Having quantitative and qualitative data of this kind will help us gain insights into creating a talent programme that is really built for purpose.”


This article is an excerpt from a feature published in Human Resources, Singapore – August 2018 edition. READ THE FULL FEATURE: Getting your expats on the road

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